Monday, October 22, 2012

Hammer Fight - Hammer Fight

The Impression I get from this New Jersey based band is of a really good high school band. They've got some really excellent songwriting ability and are excellent musicians but have yet to mature into their style. Overall Hammerfight is a hard rocking band borrowing sounds from both the stoner scene and the traditional metal scene but rarely doing anything to highlight either. Evidence for this appears in the first two tracks, Down the Line and Disas-tour. The band is having a good time playing the part of being caught in the middle, moderates in the scheme of metal extremism, neither adopting a full fledged sound from any particular class. Hammer Fight are preoccupied with rocking as mightily as possible and songs such as "Stuck in the the Chamber" and the inimitable "Get Wrecked" embody this up beat flavor. Not all is so peachy and fun though. Stand out track Tears of Unfathomable Sadness really takes the cake in terms of being atypical. It sounds less influenced by Thin Lizzy and Les Zeppelin and more influenced by any number of local metal bands that I heard trying out for my high school open house. The title alone stands out as the outrageously melodramatic.

"Stuck in the Chamber" is one of the faster songs from this rather short release which clocks in just over eighteen minutes; just under the time it takes Lance Armstrong to both finish a four hundred mile cycling marathon and simultaneously lose all his cycling medals and awards. Steroids aside, while Hammer Fight enjoy heaving and ho-ing along with their brand of decisively New Jersey flavored riffs, some steroids may have done the band well going into studio. Where as a band like God Forbid or Killswitch Engage enjoyed success in terms of record sales, Hammer Fight won't enjoy that success unless they can imbue their similarly styled efforts with some gusto. Fourth track "Tears of Unfathomable Sadness" retains the most distinctive New Jersey Melodic Hardcore stylings of the seven tracks here but throughout the whatever-this-is (I can't decide if it's a demo, EP or what) moments arise which hint at influences across the board.

The one thing most noticeable about the one-hundred percent unimaginative self titled effort is that for all the totally sweet and groovy leads spread across the attempted rock-solid release there rarely are any really exceptional backing riffs behind them. With a smearing similar to an insufficient amount of butter on an untoasted bagel, this just is a bit hard to swallow, especially with the closing re-do of AC/DC's "If You Want Blood (You Got It)" which highlights the kinds of riffs that Hammer Fight need to stay on par with their peers and influences. Where AC/DC are able to recycle riffs throughout the entirety of a song and retain the ability to be awesome, Hammer Fight on their original tracks are unable. On most tracks they shuffle through simple chord progressions in a manner that sounds amateurish for a band playing the same circuit as bands such Sacrificial Blood and Anvil Bitch.

Performances on the release are strong though. I can't complain about the band being sloppy or poor musicianship wise. Thought there is little real mentionable subject matter here, and the guitars sound a bit slippery and... local... the weakest performance, for me at least, is that of Drew Murphy. Vocals, for me, have to more substantial than some belted out yelps and gargled syllables. While Drew handles the vocals and doesn't do much of note on bass either, Rob Guiidotti and Todd Stern handle some inoffensive leads and solos with ease (perhaps too much ease). Justin Spaeth is left to his own devices on drums and does a commendable job. I guess the greater criticism I have of Hammer Fight is that, well, it's just so rehearsed. It's good to be rehearsed and all but these guys sound like they've played these songs so many times they don't like them anymore. It's a strange predicament to be in for sure. I don't think I'll come back to this much in the future even if there are some cool riffs spread out amidst the blandness. I have many better options. This will end up being the highlight of family members' CD collections and girlfriends' iPod playlists.

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